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Bill of Rights and Amendments

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Bill of Rights and Amendments

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787 the United States Constitution was signed to replace The Articles of Confederation (Library of Congress, 2012). The purpose of the Constitutional Convention was to address and solve the pressing issues with the limited power central government that was in place under the Articles of Confederation. The United States Constitution that surfaced from the convention established a new federal government with more detailed powers, including those related to conducting relations with foreign governments (U.S. Department of the State Office of the Historian, 2013). After the necessary number of state ratifications to this new United States Constitution it came into effect in 1789 and has served as the basis of the United States Government until present time.

Our Forefathers designed the United States Constitution to change and grow over time by allowing it to be amended. The Forefathers of the United States Constitution realized that as the country grew in size and power the United States Constitution would need to adjust to the needs of the people and the times. The United States Constitution was created with an amendment process in Article V. Article V of the United States Constitution states the Constitution can be amended in one of two ways. First, amendment can take place by a vote of two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate followed by a ratification of three-fourths of the various state legislatures (United States Senate, 2013). The second way the United States Constitution can be amended is by a Convention called for this purpose by two-thirds of the sate legislatures, if the Convention's proposed amendments are later ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures (United States Senate, 2013). Amendments do not come easy though because they can be vetoed by only thirteen states refusing approval; in either of their two houses. Only 27 amendments have been ratified since the Constitution came into effect, and ten of those ratifications occurred almost immediately after the Constitution was created.

The Bill of Rights was the title given to the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, which was signed and became law on December 15, 1791. Governmental power was feared at the beginning of the Constitution and still is to this day. Liberty to the people is the main reason The Bill of Rights was created. When the United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, there was plenty of opposition to the document with the biggest concern being that it did not protect many individual rights. United States President James Madison (1751-1836), then a member of the United States House of Representatives, led Congress adopting the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights has affected countless court cases on individual rights. Communities and States can become involved to push moral or financial standards on others, and the Bill of Rights stops neighbors, States, and the Federal Government from infringing on the rights of an individual. The Bill of Rights protects the civil liberties that Americans are granted with citizenship. The Bill of Rights is an ideal and powerful statement of what America is trying to be and strives to accomplish.

The Bill of Rights accounts for amendments one through ten. Each of the additional 17 amendments has come about because of clarification needed from the original mechanics of the first three articles or to ensure civil rights. Amendments 11, 16 and 24 are for clarifications of Article III. Amendments 12, 17, 20, 22, 25, 26 and 27 are for further clarification of Articles I and II. Amendment 23 is clarification of Article I. Only six amendments are to provide or clarify civil rights and those are Amendments 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21. Amendment 18 is the only one ever repealed.

The Reconstruction Amendments were amendments 13 (banning slavery and involuntary servitude), 14 (right to citizenship), 15 (prohibits denial of being judged by race, color, sex or previous servitude condition). These amendments were prepared long before the Union victory in 1865 because Congress was preparing for the many challenges the nation would face at the end of the war, particularly



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